Liverpool 0-0 Stoke City
Stoke City earned a surprise, hard-fought draw against Champions League semi-finalists Liverpool at Anfield, but they remain three points adrift of safety with just two games of the season remaining.
Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah missed the chance to break the record for most goals in a 38-game Premier League season when he clipped wide after being sent clear on goal after five minutes.
That let-off focused the visitors, who frustrated a Liverpool side lacking the attacking edge that saw them beat Roma 5-2 in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday.
Liverpool had a penalty appeal for handball against Erik Pieters turned down late on before Ryan Shawcross could have won it for Stoke but poked narrowly wide.
Paul Lambert’s side are now winless in 12 league games and remain in the relegation zone, three points behind Swansea, who face Chelsea at 17:30 BST.
The Reds missed the chance to go second but move four points clear of Tottenham in fourth.
Pieters stars for dogged Potters
Stoke’s resolute defensive performance was epitomised by Pieters.
The Dutch defender, who was at fault for Salah’s chance, rarely let the Liverpool winger get more than an arm’s length away from him for the rest of the game.
He was canny in how and when he fouled Salah – harassing but never aggressive enough to pick up a booking – while he was on hand to fell the Egyptian before he could get a shot away with Jack Butland out of his goal following a poor spill by the Stoke keeper.
Pieters was lucky too. Liverpool should have had a penalty when Georginio Wijnaldum’s cross struck the Stoke defender’s arm on 87 minutes but referee Andre Marriner and his team waived away the hosts’ appeals.
The visitors were physical but not excessively so – capable of frustrating an in-form attack that has scored 80 Premier League goals this season.
And they had a chance to steal a shock win two minutes from time as Mame Biram Diouf’s effort evaded Loris Karius and the back post, with Shawcross stealing in but unable to turn it in.
Ultimately it was not enough for victory but it was enough to stave off relegation – for now at least.
It is doubtful Stoke would have been in such trouble had they shown such defensive stoicism earlier in the season.
Salah’s off day
Salah will have to wait another week to set a new record for most goals scored in a Premier League season since the league was cut to 20 teams in 1995 following an uninspiring display.
His 32nd strike seemed like a formality when Jordan Henderson slid a pass from deep through a chasm in the Stoke defence to play Salah through, but his chip over Butland drifted wide.
It set the tone for a rare off day for both Salah and Liverpool, with the hosts creating little of note until the 20th minute when Salah played in Trent Alexander-Arnold on the overlap but the right-back could not get the ball out of his feet.
Danny Ings then had a goal disallowed for offside shortly before the break after he crashed a volley high past Butland from a narrow angle when Wijnaldum’s blocked shot fell to him, just the wrong side of the last man.
After the interval, passes became wayward, crosses weren’t quite met and frustration showed for a Reds’ side showing five changes from the team that glided past Roma on Tuesday.
Liverpool’s second straight league draw against relegation candidates may not be ideal preparation but Jurgen Klopp’s side can move on quickly by focusing on Wednesday night in Rome.
Lambert frustrates Liverpool again – match stats
- Liverpool failed to score at Anfield in the league for the first time in nine games (since a 0-0 v West Brom in December), after scoring 27 in total in the eight before that.
- Stoke City are without a win in 12 Premier League games, their longest run without a victory in the top-flight since December 1984 (17).
- It’s also the current longest winless run across the top four divisions of English football.
- The Potters are without a win in 13 away league games (D6 L7), since a 1-0 win against Watford in October.
- Paul Lambert has taken charge of more Premier League games at Anfield without ever losing than any other manager in the competition (5 – W2 D3).
- Mohamed Salah had seven shots in the game (none on target), the most he has had without scoring in a single game for Liverpool in all competitions.
Liverpool play Roma in their Champions League semi-final second leg at 19:45 BST on Wednesday, 2 May before travelling to Chelsea on Sunday, 6 May (16:30 kick-off).
Stoke host Crystal Palace on Saturday, 5 May at 12:30.